Tag Archives: siblings

It Might Go Better This Time (Fingers Crossed)

20 Sep

The eldest offspring goes back to university tomorrow. This is nice for me in only one way; the drive down takes over four hours and we do get to enjoy a good bit of banter on the way, as well as a tasty breakfast at a great truck stop.

It’s bad news in every other way.

1) I will miss her.

2) Everyone else will miss her.

3) M will miss her most of all.

Actually that last one might not be entirely true but it is the one that worries me the most. M cannot seem to process the change that E not living here means. She is a bright girl, very bright in fact, and while she can understand on an academic level that from mid September to some time in December her oldest sibling will be living in Glasgow, on an emotional and gut level the messages aren’t getting through. I know she loves her dearly and is usually content to be left in E’s care if I need to pop out, but I think the real problem is that something has changed.

She knows that R goes to boarding school every Sunday and returns every Friday. That has been happening for so long that it is written into her coding somehow as “usual”. E going to university just isn’t. I mistakenly assumed that last January would be easier on M than the September had been, as she would realise that we were all speaking the truth when we said E would come home for a holiday, but in fact every time E departed the behaviours were worse than before.

So, my concerns that next week could be very tough indeed after a three month summer break are, I feel, well founded.

I just hope I’m wrong.


The Balancing Act

8 Jun

M had her Highland Dancing exam yesterday. She was very outwardly calm about it, practising regularly and going to all her extra classes (once a week after school) and seeming quietly confident.

However, on Friday evening she had her melatonin at the usual time for a weekend which means that she should have been fast asleep by 8.30. Hah! I was out collecting something so I got home about 9. She was suddenly wide awake and downstairs “E forgot to brush my teeth.” Her big sister had indeed forgotten, so a quick brush later and she was tucked back up. 

The next hour and a half was hard work. I had a little Jack-in-the-box, not a sleepy daughter. Her final assault on my emotions was a pathetic wail that we hadn’t fed her any tea and her tummy was rumbling. (I would like to point out for any worried readers that of course we had fed her.) I sent her back downstairs for a jam sandwich and a drink, and called down to hubby to stick a second melatonin in the sandwich. We’ve been strongly resisting upping her dosage even though the paediatrician said we could, as usually she will settle. This time it was needed, and thankfully she finally dropped off about 10.45.

The next worry was would she wake in time. Being woken is a sure-fire way to turn her mood into cranky straight away, so it was with huge relief that she was awake and cheerful in plenty of time in the morning.

I deliberately didn’t get to the hall too much in advance. M has short hair so nothing needed to be done except for changing into her dancing outfit and having her photo taken (I do this every year). She was quite buzzed and hyper, whizzing around the room and chatting to everyone. I managed to calm her down by giving her my tablet to play some games on. And then she went through for the exam. 

This is my happy girl (on the surface) when she returned:


We stuck rigidly to our usual post-dancing routine of snack at the cafe, wander around the charity shops and then a quick top-up shop in the supermarket before heading home.

B had had a lovely morning out in the garden helping L with her guinea pigs and bouncing on the trampoline. He was full of sunshine and good spirits. Unfortunately for him, he had also borrowed some of M’s dinosaurs to play with. She went nuts at him, really over the top, and hit him hard before I was able to intervene. I know she was exhausted from the late night and change in routine but violence to other people is a hard limit in our house, I comforted B while L raced upstairs for the weighted blanket. We parked M on the sofa in front of a dvd and told her firmly not to move unless she needed to pee.

Thankfully, it worked. the quiet time and the deep pressure from her blanket soothed all the upset away and gave her time to “restore factory settings” as I tend to think of it. I guess the nerves about the exam, the late night and the change in routine from lesson to exam was enough to tip her over the edge. Poor B was just the trigger for her explosion. I think if it hadn’t have been the dinosaurs it would have been something equally small – and maybe I would never have been able to avoid it. When she is older I am hoping she will know to take herself somewhere quiet for a while in order to decompress and manage her anxieties before they hit meltdown, but I am grateful that I was able to contain most of it and keep her and everyone else safe.

We ended the day in a much nicer way, M and B friends again. I took them to the local shop to choose an ice lolly then we headed to the park. They had a wonderful hour playing in both parks, and in one they met some friends who were delighted to see them. M spent most of her time on the swings – she adores the motion and I think they calm her. I can understand this as my place of refuge as a child was my swing in our garden. I could spend literally hours swinging. 



The evening routine went without a hitch; cuddles and melatonin and being very tired from so much exercise was enough to send M to sleep before 8.30 and the “normal” was restored.

I do need to learn to pre-empt the meltdowns though – perhaps I should have had her blanket and dvd waiting for her. As a so-called “neuro-typical” myself it is very hard if not impossible to think ahead about what might be ahead that upsets M to the point she can’t handle her emotions. Every time she explodes it gives me an insight into how not to handle it next time. I know as she matured she will learn to self-regulate but until then I will keep on trying to keep the scales balanced.











6 Apr

IDYLL: – “An extremely happy, peaceful or picturesque period or situation, typically an idealized or unsustainable one”

The Oxford Dictionary definition of idyll. And one I am currently experiencing.

Let me explain. M is happy. Really, truly happy. Everything is right with her world. Her school has broken up for the Easter holidays and there is a fortnight of lazy mornings, relaxed rules around clothing, food and TV watching, and with the guarantee of a chocolate-fest at the end. Not forgetting her youngest brother has a birthday next week, more excuses for cake and fun.

However, the real reason for her contentment is that E, big sis, is home from university for to weeks. Sadly not the same two weeks as everyone else due to important classes the week before Easter itself, but no matter, the missing piece of our family is back “where she belongs”, lying around in her funky pyjama bottoms, enjoying the endless cups of tea and broadband, and dolling out cuddles and sisterly love in the form of listening to M read her school books and collecting her from school.

This is when I am happiest myself – I love all my kids under the same roof. It tears at my heart every Sunday during term time when R gets in his taxi that takes him back to his boarding school. And I am getting better at not turning into an hysterical mess when E goes back to uni. 

But for M, E leaving is just “not right” Luckily she can’t really remember a time when R wasn’t doing his weekly commute so although she is always delighted on a Friday evening, his departure doesn’t affect her in the same way as E leaving does. The anxiety that is part of her autism will not let her be convinced that E will be coming back again, and she pines for her sister. It colours every part of her life and she even finds it hard to park in a certain part of the local town for her dancing class as that’s where I took a photo of them wearing matching duffel coats and big boots – “it makes me sad Mumma” :


So, I am enjoying my idyll and trying to push next Sunday afternoon to the back of my mind. That’s when E takes the train back to uni, and I have to console a wee girl who just won’t be able to process the concept of “not gone”. I don’t know why she can deal with other people leaving and coming back and not her sister, but I always hope that one day the pain will be smaller, and my cuddles will be enough reassurance.

Not going Well

21 Jan

The tantrum train has been stopping at our house this week.

I know they are tantrums and not full-blown meltdowns, but it scarcely matters as M is unable to function properly either way.

Her sister has gone back to university, and with it has come the inability to accept the change in routine and to family life. It’s not even as if M spends hours with E when she is home, but the fact that is here makes it all right in M’s World. 

It was pretty awful back in September when E went away for the first time, but somehow I expected it to be easier this time. How wrong I was! M’s PSA*, the rather wonderful Mrs T, had a suggestion this afternoon that perhaps it’s worse precisely because M knows how she felt in September so the dread of the emotions plus the emotions themselves have tipped her over the edge. Either way, there is very little I can do for my wee girl except keep calm, keep the routine, and keep the reassurance that I am still here for her.

After Monday when M went to school half an hour late and in her pyjamas, and today when she was 15 minutes late and mercifully dressed, it would be nice to think that tomorrow we will achieve fully clothed and on time. But, if we don’t then we don’t – her autism is playing all the parts in the story of her life right now, and I have to accept that that role is bigger than everything else at the moment.


*Pupil Support Assistant


Silent Sunday

20 Oct

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday

6 Oct

Silent Sunday

A good week

7 Jun

We’ve had lots happening this week. DD1 had the final 2 exams of her school career, and now she is a free agent and off at her first music festival.

DD2 is now in her 5th year of secondary school and came home today happy with a Swiss roll she’d made in a cookery class (It was cooking or Higher Maths so she went for the practical option – smart girl) and we pronounced her a newly discovered baker 🙂 It was delicious.

DS1 completed and passed his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, a great achievement and made even better by the fact he had an awful start to the week at school and I am still trying to sort out what on earth some staff were thinking. More of that in another post. Here is a snap of my big lad setting off for his trip:



DS2, who has been struggling with anger issues for most of this year, completed the week with a full sheet of green stars for good behaviour during the school day, which made him so proud of himself, and rightly so. It’s not always easy being stuck between 2 siblings with additional needs and he is learning how to channel his feelings in a much more appropriate manner.

And M? Well, she had a cracking week in school – despite some serious reluctance in the mornings to even eat her breakfast – and no meltdowns have broken out. She has lost her temper plenty of times, and there have been tears, and extra cuddles have been needed, but it was a happy wee girl who talked me into another beach afternoon today. And why not? The sun was shining and it was hot; tomorrow it could be raining again. So we did some of this:


and even some of this:


Wishing each and every one of you a good weekend. 

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